The 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals is still ongoing, but the TNT KaTropa already have something to be proud of.
Franchise player Jayson Castro and do-it-all forward Terrence Jones bagged the mid-season conference’s top individual honors prior to Game Four of the best-of-seven series, Sunday at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Castro was adjudged the Best Player of the Conference – his fifth, tied with one of the league’s all-time greats Danny Ildefonso for second-most number of BPC awards. Meanwhile, Jones was crowned as the Best Import.
With both of them propelling the KaTropa to a Finals return after five conferences, they are both ecstatic to win the coveted plums.
“Sobrang maraming-maraming salamat sa media, sa players, sa coaches na nag-vote sa akin.
“Yun nga, sobrang na-appreciate ko yun. Sa age kong ito, nakakuha pa ako ng award na ganun,” said the 33-year-old Castro.
“I just wanna thank all my teammates. Without them, it wouldn’t be possible.
“My family, who I’m doing this for; to inspire the youth that’s over here; and the coaching staff, the organization for giving me this opportunity,” Jones said.
Unfortunately, they may not get to celebrate. Roughly two and a half hours after their coronation, TNT lost, 101-106.
Had they won, things would be easy for them. TNT would have had a commanding 3-1 lead in the race-to-four series, which would put the title just within their reach. The KaTropa have yet to strike gold since the 2015 edition of the same conference.
The KaTropa had a chance when they fought back from a 69-84 deficit early in the final period. They then turned it to just a field goal, 96-98, with 40.3 seconds left. But June Mar Fajardo and his crew prevented a meltdown.
“I think we did a great job of coming back, but with the timing of when they made their run, it was just a little difficult for us to try to get over that hump so late in the fourth,” admitted Jones, who had 32 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.
For Castro, comebacks may look nice, but they shouldn’t play catch-up if they want to talk away with the win.
“Start ng fourth quarter, ang laki na naman ng hinabol namin. For us to win, dapat ‘di kami naghahabol. Dapat nandun lang kami,” opined the veteran point guard, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and three steals.
Game Five will be on Wednesday, August 13. For Castro, their defense will be the key as they aim to zero in on the crown.
“Siguro, yung defense mag-papanalo sa amin, kung pa’no namin sila ma-stop. Kasi yung offense, ‘pag maganda yung depensa namin, yung offense, napakadali sa amin eh. We need to focus sa defense muna talaga.”